SpaceX and Space Adventures plan high-flying trips

SpaceX plans to put private citizens in the seats of its Crew Dragon spaceship. (SpaceX Photo via Space Adventures)

Space Adventures says it’s entered into an agreement with SpaceX to send private citizens into orbit on free-flying missions that would take them far above the International Space Station.

The first flight could take place as early as late 2021, carry up to four people on an autonomously piloted Crew Dragon spacecraft, and last up to five days, the Virginia-based company said in a news release and video about the arrangement. In advance of the mission, the spacefliers would undergo a few weeks of training in the U.S.

Today’s announcement follows up on governmental efforts to commercialize space operations in low Earth orbit, and on the Crew Dragon’s successful uncrewed demonstration mission to and from the space station last year.

In contrast to that test flight, the private mission wouldn’t involve a stopover at the space station, and NASA wouldn’t have a primary role in managing the mission. Space Adventures said the flight would be powered by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida — presumably from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which is set up for crewed flights.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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